Grave Concern over the Deterioration of the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
PCHR is gravely concerned over the continuous deterioration in the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory caused by Palestinian security services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including attacks against civil society organizations, political arrests campaigns and attacks against journalists. PCHR calls upon the two Palestinian governments in Gaza and Ramallah to stop such human rights violations and to ensure respect for the Basic Law and international human rights standards.
Security services of the government in Gaza have continued their attacks against civil institutions belonging to Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip. The latest of such attacks was on Tuesday, 29 July 2008, as security services ordered the closure of Rafah Service Club in Rafah for the second time in 2 days, and Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza City. It is worth noting that Palestinian security services in Gaza and the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) launched on 26 July 2008 a campaign against civil society organizations belonging to, believed to be close to, or even not linked at all to Fatah movement throughout the Gaza Strip. According to PCHR’s documentation, the number of civil society organizations that have been attacked throughout the Gaza Strip since 26 July 2008 has increased to 152.
Over the past few days political arrest campaigns escalated in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the hands of security services of the governments in Gaza and Ramallah.
In the West Bank, Palestinian security services resumed arrests of Hamas supporters over the past few days. PCHR’s documentation indicates that the arrests campaign that started on 26 July has targeted more than 100 detainees, many of them academics, religious leaders, school principals, community figures, university students, and elected municipality officials from the pro-Hamas change and reform party.
In Gaza, Palestinian security services continued to detain Fatah supporters in prisons or detention centers. These arrests are part of a campaign launched by these security services on 26 July against dozens of Fatah supporters.
Over the past several days attacks by security services on freedom of expression escalated in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Center’s preliminary investigations indicate that the latest violation occurred in the Gaza Strip. At approximately 1:00 on Wednesday, 30 July, a Police Force arrived at the house of journalist Emad Eid (36) in Tal El-Hawa Quarter in Gaza City. Eid is the Director of Maan News Agency office in Gaza City and the correspondent of Al-Manar Satellite Station. The Police asked him to accompany them to El-Abbas police station in Gaza City to discuss a news item published by Maan News Agency on 29 July. He was released half an hour later.
In the same context, the Palestinian Police in Gaza city banned the entry of three daily newspapers (Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam, and Al-Hayat) into Gaza for the third consecutive day. The agents for the three newspapers headed to Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing on 28 and 29 July to receive the newspapers. However, Policemen near the crossing prevented them from receiving them and confiscated the 28 July editions.
At approximately 21:30 on Saturday, 26 July, agents of the Internal Security Apparatus in Gaza raided the WAFA News Agency offices in El-Aydi building in Tal El-Hawa Quarter in Gaza City. They confiscated all belongings and carried them in trucks to undisclosed locations. An Internal Security Apparatus force is still stationed at the entrance of the WAFA office.
At approximately 3:00 on Saturday (26 July), masked gunmen from the Internal Security Apparatus in Gaza detained the journalist Sawwah Abu Seif (41), the correspondent of German TV, from his residence in the Journalists’ Building in Tal El-Hawa Quarter in Gaza City. They took him to an undisclosed location. The Internal Security Apparatus confiscated his laptop computer. Abu Seif’s fate remains unclear till now.
In the West Bank, a force of the Preventive Security Apparatus raided the Arabi Media Center in the town of Durra southwest of Hebron, at approximately 21:30 on Tuesday (29 July). They detained the Center’s Director, journalist Awad Ibrahim Mohammad Rjoub (31), who is the correspondent of Al-Jazeera Net and other news agencies. He was taken to the Preventive Security Compound in the town. Awad’s brother, Mu’ath, informed PCHR’s fieldworker that the force confiscated two computers, a cellular phone, and documents belonging to his brother.
In the morning of Tuesday (29 July), Palestinian security forces detained the journalist Farid Hammad (35) from the town of Silwad northeast of Ramallah. He works in the editorial section of Al-Ayyam newspaper. Farid’s wife informed PCHR’s fieldworker that two days ago her husband received a summoning order from a Palestinian security service she did not identify. He went to the headquarters of that security service and did not return home or call his family since then.
In the evening of Saturday (26 July), the Palestinian General Intelligence Service detained the free-lance journalist Mustafa Ali Sabri (41) from his house in the town of Qalqilya. He was taken to the General Intelligence compound in the city. Sabri informed PCHR’s fieldworker that General Intelligence operatives threw him on the ground, beat him, and used derogatory language against him. He was released on Sunday (27 July) without charges.
At approximately 12:10 on Tuesday (26 July), several photographers were covering a demonstration for the Islamic Liberation Party in Hebron. Two Palestinian security officers in military attire asked the photographers to stop shooting. And Immediately afterwards they snatched the camera of journalist Jusri Mahmoud El-Jamal (32); and one of them started pounding the camera against a car, destroying the camera. El-Jamal works for Reuters.
It is noted that Palestine and Al-Resala newspapers, close to Hamas, have been banned from distribution in the West Bank after Al-Ayyam Printing House declined to continue printing them in the West Bank since 16 June 2007 after receiving a threat from anonymous parties on 14 June 2007.
On another front, PCHR has documented additional attacks by members of Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions, the armed wing of Hamas, which included shootings, severe beatings, and torture against people and raids against houses.
The Center’s preliminary investigation indicates that the most prominent of these violations are the shooting of persons after being abducted by Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions. In Gaza City, El-Qassam masked gunmen in a vehicle abducted Emad Ahmad El-Sheikh Khalil (28) in the afternoon of 26 July. They abducted him from his neighborhood of El-Twan in Jabalia as he was walking near his house. Later during the same day, an unknown caller contacted Emad’s brother using Emad’s cellular phone and informed him that Emad is injured and is near El-Nawras resort west of the town. Emad’s relatives headed to the area and found him injured by several bullets in the pelvis and legs. They took him to Shifa Hospital where his condition is listed as serious.
In the town of Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, members of Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions abducted 9 members of Abu Sa’da clan at approximately 21:00 on Sunday (27 July). They took them to the El-Qassam outpost in the town. The gunmen fired pistol shots at one of the abductees, Abd El-Hamid Suliman Abu Sa’da (32) inside the outpost. He was injured by 4 bulletss in his right hand and right leg. They other abductees were beaten and humiliated by El-Qassam members.
In Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, members of Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions abducted Zeyad Hasan Abu Samak (35) at approximately 1:00 on Saturday (26 July). He is a construction materials trader from the refugee camp. They took him to an undisclosed location. Approximately 1.5 hours later, people found him near Abu Obaida School in Beir El-Na’ja area in a bad health condition as a result of severe beating. They took him to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City where sources said he was suffering from concussions in the head and bruises to the body. He was transferred to Barzelai Hospital in Israel due to the severity of his condition.
In another incident, Ali Majed Hussein (25), a released abductee, informed PCHR that at approximately 23:10 on Saturday (26 July), Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions gunmen traveling in a car abducted him from his grocery store in El-Mashtal Street northwest of Gaza City. They took him to a residential building near the former headquarters of the General Intelligence Service in the Sudaneya area west of Jabalia. The abductee stated that the gunmen beat him with their hands and gun butts on the way. Then they forced him to sit in an open area near the residential building and threw 4 construction bricks at his feet. Then they tied his feet and put cement blocks with protruding iron rods on his feet. Then they took him to an open area near Khaled El-Alami school in Mashtal Street and forced him to lie face down on the ground. Then they beat him and left the area. The area residents took him to Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City suffering from bruises and punctures in his feet caused by pressure from the cement blocks.
On another front, Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions members closed the house belonging to Abd El-Qadir El-Mash’harawi, the father of Fatah leader Samir El-Mash’haraw, and the house of Zahir Abu Baker in El-Daraj Quarter in Gaza City. At approximately 00:00 on Tuesday (29 July), tens of El-Qassam Battalions members arrived at the house of Abd El-Qadir El-Mash’harawi and forced him to evacuate the house that consists of 5 stories and houses approximately 30 people, most of them women and children. They closed the house entrance with an iron-wielding machine, and wrote on the walls “closed by order of Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions.” Adnan Abd El-Qadir El-Mash’haraw informed PCHR that the commander of the gunmen informed him, “This is a message to your brother Samir in order to refrain from making statements.”
About 15 minutes later, Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions gunmen closed the house of Zahir Mohammad Abu Baker located approximately 20 meters away from El-Mash’harawi house using the same method. The house consists of 3 stories and houses 6 people. It is noted that Abu Baker purchased the house from Zeyad Abd El-Qadir El-Mash’harawi on 2 August 2007.
On another front, Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions confiscated private vehicles. The most prominent case occurred at approximately 23:00 on Saturday (26 July) when 10 masked El-Qassam gunmen in 3 vehicles arrived at the house of Hasan Jum’a El-Efranji in Jamal Abd El-Naser Street in Gaza City. The searched the house garage and confiscated 3 vehicles, one of them a governmental vehicle and the other 2 private. At approximately 1:30 on Monday (28 July) the owners retrieved the 2 private vehicles from El-Qassam Battalions. One was suffering from a serious mechanical flaw due to misuse by members of El-Qassam.
PCHR strongly condemns these violations, and:
- 1) Calls upon the government in Gaza to stop the campaign against civil society organizations and to retreat from all measures of closure and confiscation against dozens of organizations.
- 2) Asserts that the right of association is ensured by the constitution and international human rights standards, and that all measures taken by security services and the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades violate Law #1 of 2000 Related to Charities and NGOs.
- 3) Calls for neutralizing the civil society from the conflict between Fatah and Hamas movements, and stresses that independence of the civil society and the vital role played by NGOs in providing social, economic, developmental and cultural services.
- 4) Calls for the immediate release of all political detainees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and reminds of the Palestinian High Court Decision of 20 February 1999 outlawing political arrests; and calls upon all executive parties to respect the High Court decision and retrain from conducting illegal political arrests.
- 5) Points with concern to the recurrence of attacks on freedom of expression and journalism freedoms; affirming the need to provide protection for journalists and media outlets in order to fulfill their tasks freely in respect of freedom of expression and journalism freedoms.
- 6) Strongly condemns the continued illegal detentions perpertrated by Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions, and calls for their immediate stop and for the closure of all El-Qassam-controlled detention centers. The Centre affirms that Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions is not a law-enforcement agency and is not empowered to conduct arrests or deal in civilian matters in this form.
Annexed herewith is a list of civil society organizations, which have been attacked, as documented so far by PCHR staff.
Civil Society Organizations That Have Been Attacked in the Gaza Strip
Northern Gaza Strip:
1. Jabalya Service Club
2. Life and Hope Association - Jabalya refugee camp
3. Fatah Headquarter in the Northern Gaza Strip
4. North Association for Social Development - Beit Lahia
5. Beit Lahia Development Association
6. Educational Enrichment Association - Beit Lahia
7. Capacity-Building Center of the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped - Beit Lahia
8. Al-Nahda Association - Beit Lahia
9. Freedom Association for Community Development
10. Palestinian Forum Association
11. Jabalya Friends Association
12. Palestinian Association for Development and Charity
13. Palestinian Upholsterers Association
14. National Sports Club - Beit Hanoun
15. Ta’alof Association
16. The Coast Association
17. North Gaza Governorate
18. Culture and Arts Center
19. Life and Hope Association - al-Twam , area
20. Free Homeland Association for Development
21. Afaq Association for Development
1. Palestinian Council for Foreign Relations
2. Abna’ona Association for Development - the Beach Camp
3. Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development - al-Tuffah neighborhood
4. The library of National Work Corporation
5. Office of Fatah Movement - Martyr Ayman Jouda Groups
6. General Union of Palestine Students
7. Shu’aa’ Association - al-Tuffah neighborhood
8. Palestinian Youth Association Center
9. Gaza Sports Club
10. Palestinian Family Services Associations
11. Department of Refugees’ Affairs
12. Palestine of Tomorrow Association
13. Al-Mashtal Sports Club
14. Al-Jalaa’ Sports Club
15. The Beach Service Club
16. Culture Revival Association
17. Al-Zaytoun Sports Club
18. Freedom Association for Community Development - al-Tuffah neighborhood
19. Charity Association for the Rescue of Palestinian Families
20. National Association for Martyrs
21. Gaza Governorate
22. Steadfast Home Association
23. Palestinian National Association for Construction
24. Palestine Is Our Home
25. Media Development Center of Bir Zeit University
26. Arab Knights Association - al-Nasser neighborhood
27. Wafa News Agency
28. Financial Department of Fatah Movement
29. Haneen Association
30. The Headquarter of Fatah Movement
31. Office of Fatah Parliamentary Bloc
32. Office of Dr. Ibrahim Abu al-Naja
33. General Union of Palestinian Women
34. The Right to Life Association
35. Palestinian Youth Center
Central Gaza Strip:
1. Deir al-Balah Service Club
2. Governorate of the Central Gaza Strip
3. Hittin Charity
4. Sun of Freedom Association
5. Palestinian Commission for Development and Culture
6. Cultural and Social Development Association
7. Local Association for Social Development
8. Al-Maghazi Association for Local Development
9. Al-Maghazi Association for the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped
10. Yasour Charity
11. Buds of Hope Association
12. Student Welfare Association
13. Communication Forum
14. National Association for the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped
15. Al-Maghazi Municipality (old office)
16. Al-Manal Association for Women’s Development
17. Union of Women’s Committees
18. Al-Aqsa Sports Club
19. Palestinian Home Development and Rehabilitation
20. Al-Aqsa Youth Association - Deir al-Balah
21. Al-Boreij Association for Community Rehabilitation
22. Al-Musaddar Association for Rural Development
23. Palestinian Association for Community Development (Ataa’) - Nussairat
1. Khan Yunis Governorate
2. Buthaina Hijju Association - al-Amal neighborhood
3. Al-Awda Charity in Khan Yunis
4. Al-Amal Kindergarten - Khuza’a village
5. Tear of Palestine Association
6. Youth Dawn Association
7. Watan Association for Folklore and Family Development
8. Khuza’a Agricultural Center
9. Young Scientists Forum
10. Al-Huda Development Association
11. Rights and Justice Association
12. Nawwar Educational Center of Culture and Free Thought Society
13. Women’s Loans Program
14. Palestinian Youth Volunteers Association - Khan Yunis Camp
15. Happy Society Association for Development - al-Qarara village
16. Office of Fatah Movement in the center of Khan Yunis
17. Office of Fatah Movement in the west of Khan Yunis
18. Union of Women’s Committees for Social Work
19. National Association for Social Development
20. Palestinian Democratic Union (Fida)
21. Al-Safaa’ Development Association
22. Palestinian Cultural Forum Association
23. Qaa’ al-Qurain Development Association
24. Al-Fukhari Development and Culture Association
25. Al-Qarara Youth Forum
26. Al-Qarara Center for Social Development
27. Al-Qarara Association for the Development of the Child in Rural Communities
28. Pioneers Association for Palestinian Youth - ‘Abasan village
29. Al-Hawa and al-Nour Association - Bani Suhaila village
30. Rural Development Association
31. Al-Shorouq Center - Bani Suhaila village
32. Future Association - Khuza’a village
33. Youth without Borders - Khuza’a village
34. Al-Nahda Rural Development Association
35. Palestinian Association for Development
36. Bayader Association for Development - Bani Suhaila
37. Khalil al-Rahman Association - ‘Abasan village
38. Palestinian Youth Forum - Bani Suhaila village
39. Zahwa Kindergarten
40. Al-Mashriq Charity
41. Palestinian Hopes Charity
42. University Graduates Association - Bani Suhaila village
43. Bunyan Charity
44. International Friendship Club for Children
45. Country Association for Palestinian Folklore - ‘Abasan village
46. Union of Palestinian Pharmacists
47. Candles of Hope Association for the Development and Culture of the Child
48. Life Impulse Association
49. The Holy Mosques Islamic Charity
50. Al-Quds Association for the Development of al-Mawasi Area
51. Al-Karama Sports Club
52. Shiny Tomorrow Association
1. Collective Center for Public Service (Collective Sports Club)
2. Rafah Service Club
3. Al-Karama Compound for Culture and Arts
4. Rural Activities Center of Yabous Association
5. Public Committee of Refugees
6. Office of Fatah Movement - Khaled al-Hassan Area
7. Youth Forum Office
8. Rafah Governorate
9. Office of Fatah Movement - Salah Khalaf Area
10. Office of Fatah Movement - Majed Abu Sharar Area
11. Al-Nasser Women Center (Rural Women Development Association)
12. Generations Development Center (Ghiras)
13. Yebna Charity
14. Al-Hayat Charity
15. Future Generations Association
16. Palestinian Vision Association (Fajr)
17. Youth Intellectual Development Association
18. Office of Fatah Movement - Sa’d Sayel Area
19. Al-Salam neighborhood Charity
20. Isdoud Charity
21. Al-Nasser Charity
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